Category Archives: Featured Artist

Crossing a Major Threshold: Jason Karolak at McKenzie Fine Art Inc.

Jason Karolak, Painting, SAIC

Untitled, Oil on Canvas, 86 x 76″

Jason Karolak, Painting, SAIC

Untitled, Oil on Canvas, 90 x 79″

Jason Karolak 3 Jason Karolak 4 Jason Karolak 5

I met Jason Karolak at Pratt Institute in the mid-90’s when he was an undergraduate painter
and I was taking part-time classes
about three years
after I received
my BA.

I didn’t know him well, but hung with him just long enough so when he came up to me at a SAIC alumni function at the Sculpture Center this past February,
I had a vague recollection of his undergraduate paintings that were big and grand
and filled with many unanswered questions
and hard-won struggles.

He told me he recently graduated from SAIC with a MFA in painting and that he had a solo show at McKenzie Fine Art.
When I went to the show, I was impressed with not only how far he had come from his undergraduate days,
but also with how much I related to his quiet, methodical thinking that is evident in his mark making
and in how he handles going from a smaller to a larger scale. I also admired his skill with color,
which is something that is beyond my present ability to produce.

In addition, he has crossed a major threshold that stops many MFA recipients: He has managed to continue making work after graduation
and to have a professional show in New York City.
This, in itself, is a profound accomplishment.
I hope he continues to continue.

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Happy Thanksgiving and Gratitude List of 12

In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving – a time where Americans meet over a meal for fellowship, connection and community.
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving – and I hope everyone can find something to be grateful for.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted, because I’ve been planning a 6-month trip out of the country for perhaps the largest art project I’ve ever done.
I’m not ready to make it public, but stay tuned. I’ll announce soon, and if you want insider info:
join my mailing list, http://eepurl.com/norTf
and be sure to follow this blog
so you can follow
my progress.

This post is about gratitude. I’ve done so much over the last few months and I feel grateful for all that has transpired and I’ll like to share some of it with you.
In keeping with the main purpose of this blog, my list of 12 items below is a small window into some of what I’ve been curious about.
Make sure you go all the way to the end, because there’s a clue to my 6-month project that I’ll announce soon…

Can you guess what I’ll be doing soon?

Rachel Uffner GalleryRachel Uffner Gallery1. Opening – Anya Kielar: WOMEN; Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY.

Rachel Uffner Gallery is a great gallery in the Lower Eastside and I am always amazed by the amount of art
that she gets into such a small space … and it always looks good.
.

Global Attractor and Messoud Efendiev2. Attended – Finite and infinite dimensional attractors for porous medium equations, Messoud Efendiev; ANALYSIS SEMINAR, Courant Institute, NYU.

Part of Prof. Efendiev’s lecture set out to show how you know whether a global attractor, a concept in chaos theory, was unique.
He pointed out – with great enthusiasm – that you first have to prove its existence! awesome, just awesome.
.

Teresita Fernandez3. Opening – Teresita Fernandez: Night Writing; Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, NY.

Like the simplicity … fan.
.

Bryan Osbrun painting4. Opening – Bryan Osburn; Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NY.

I’ve followed Bryan’s work for years and his painting has grown and changed in wonderful ways!
.

The Kitchen5. Attended – The Kitchen L.A.B.: Shannon Jackson, Elad Lassry, Tere O’Connor and Lynne Tillman; The Kitchen, New York, NY.

A discussion about the perils of understanding one’s present moment and not being subject to forces of objectification, intellectual tyranny and the mediated presence. My gloss: How can you express a unique presence? How can you describe it? How can you know it? The presenters made some post-modern moves and expressed the way they each dealt with these issues in their own art practice. All very slippery stuff … stuff I struggle with in my own art.
.

Alan Weinstein6. Attended – Microlocal analysis over the Maslov cycle, Alan Weinstein; Geometric Analysis and Topology Seminar, Courant Institute, NYU.

This lecture just blew me out of the water. The cutting edge of pure mathematics: You don’t get more abstract than this!
Will tackle this lecture in another post.
.

Samuel Nigro Cardboard Volume7. Made a bunch of these. They are cardboard volumes, 88 x 20 x 20” representing a volume of granite that would weigh 2 tons. You’ll see more of these soon.
.

Mark Dagley Red and Black Triangle

8. Opening – Mark Dagley: Structural Solutions; Minus Space, Brooklyn, NY.

One reason I really like Minus Space is because of its minimalist sensibility. I love this red and black painting.
The gallery is in my neighborhood – dumbo, Brooklyn, NY – right down the street from my studio, really.
The weird thing is that late one afternoon I received an email announcing a new post
of a blog I follow: http://fortheloveofnike.com/2012/09/28/classic-with-a-twist-of-quirky/

I had a quick look, and left my studio to attend some openings in the neighborhood and walked directly to Minus Space – and directly in front of this black and red painting. I couldn’t NOT make the connection!? I couldn’t make this up: Weird, Just weird … and non-rational.
.

Lucas Caleb Rooney Zara Aina: Share a Life

9. Met – Lucas Caleb Rooney, founder of Zara Aina: Share Life

Lucas is working on an amazing project, where he is pairing theater actors from America with children from Madgascar so both groups can connect, share their experiences and find a new outlet to tell their stories. The goal is to allow these children to develop theatrical performances as a mode of communication about their difficult upbringings.

Zara Aina: Share Life is having its inaugural benefit on Nov. 26th. Have a look at the site and buy a ticket. I’ll post more information soon!
.

Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the West

10. Attended – Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the West: Charles Lang Freer and the Xiangtangshan Cave Chapels, Presented by Keith Wilson, The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art; The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU.

A lecture about the reconstruction of a Buddhist cave, built 1500 years ago in Northern China, and musings about how religious icons become objects of aesthetic displays.
.

Hurricane Sandy dumbo

11. Superstorm Sandy and The Election for the President of the United States of America.

These two events kept me busy, and they are related. Much has been said about both, and many pictures taken.
I’ll just add: We are, most likely, in a new climate state.
.

Jesse Bercowetz & Rathin Barman12. Met – My friend and sculptor Jesse Bercowetz introduced me to Rathin Barman, a sculptor from Calcutta, India.

.
.
And finally, Thanksgiving:

Samuel Nigro thanksgiving

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Yes, Yes, Yes! … the winners

The Winners of  CONTEST – language acquisition:


First Place

Cliff Garstang! He is a writer from Virginia, who has a new book coming out on October 1. It’s a novel in stories set in Washington, D.C., called WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW. Find out more at http://CliffordGarstang.com.

The Contest was posted at 9:0o am, and Cliff answered with a laconic – albeit, excited – “Ja!” at 9:12 am. That’s fast and correct. Ja is the German word I used in my first post, it begins …, that means:  Yes. For that, I told him he could choose three drawings that will now be known as Cliff’s Triptych.

Cliff Garstang
Cliff's Triptych, Samuel Nigro, Drawing, Granite Wall
Runner-Up

Steve Juras! He is a poet, artist and designer, operating out of Chicago. Check out his blog at:  http://studiopractices.tumblr.com/

Steve’s in-depth, sharp analysis of both the question and answer earned him two drawings, and is worth repeating here:

Deeply embedded in “…it begins”:

ja, ja, ja!

Sly. Very sly…

Well done, Steve.

Steve Juras

Steve's Diptych, Samuel Nigro, Drawing, Granite Wall

Honorable Mention

Beth Weinstein! She is a writer in New York City, working on a short story collection entitled Things that Rise and Fall. Since 2007, Beth has managed
PEN American Center’s World Voices Festival—New York City’s only international festival of literature—and has organized PEN’s year-round programming.

For participating, she receives a drawing of her choice. Thanks, Beth.

Beth Weinstein

Samuel Nigro, Drawing, Granite Wall

I want to give a shout-out to Barb Fisco, Christopher Cox, Kate Cantrill and Mary Ann Hopkins: Thanks for engaging! Next time post on the blog and see what happens.

Of Note: All three winners receive my e-newsletter, and thus get inside information, like – for example – the notifications of upcoming contests.
You, too, can join the e-newsletter: http://eepurl.com/norTf

good luck next time.

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Sarah Moon – an interlude … (while I research a new Video Camera)

My video camera of 15 years(!) broke last month, which has hampered this blog’s development.
As I research the new technology and edit new footage … an interlude:

Sarah Moon’s work deeply affected me the first time I saw it on May 10th, 2012
at the Howard Greenberg Gallery 
on E. 57th Street, New York, NY.

These images are just to give you a flavor and are no substitute for the originals.

Sarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah MoonSarah Moon

On May 10th, 2012, I planned to go to a series of events, which celebrated the life and work of French photography publishing Titan, Robert Delpire (more here). We had plans to hit most of the events, including The French Embassy and late night party at Hermés.

I arrived at the Howard Greenberg Gallery around 6:15 pm, knowing nothing of the exhibit but expecting to find my posse. I did the predictable gallery opening stuff: wandered through the space glancing from art to person to drink’s table to reception desk and back to art. I adopted the slow, pensive gallery-opening-walk, engaged in the polite art-talk and gave meaningful looks at the stuff on the wall. Then, something very primal shifted within.

I realized I was standing in the mists of an artist with a brilliant photographic eye … there was something so exceptional about Sarah’s photography
if you could see through all the externals …
Her work is bold and clear and seductive and subtle and sensual and hidden and revealing and just amazing … I let the work wash over me;
I read the press release – twice. I was reserved with others, but the more I looked, the more I was hooked … I was convinced …
Her vision: I determined right then that I would follow her vision
wherever she took me. I was amazed.
I was ensorcelled by her fantasy.

Accelerate to the evening’s finale: the party at The Gallery at Hermès/Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
 on Madison Avenue. The show featured about a dozen contemporary photographers: all of amazing caliber and qualities worthy of renown – many of them at the party – but I just couldn’t help comparing their work to Sarah Moon’s. Now, many of these other photographers deal with social and political themes (which are important in their own way and I may write about later. Her work rarely references a particular space and time and is influenced by commercial and fashion-related forces), but the compositions and tensions between figure and abstraction of Sarah Moon’s photography were imprinted* within my neural net and I craved them.

Fast Forward to the end of the evening: about to walk out the door, I am with a friend next to an entourage of people surrounding one of the most interesting women in the room, a petite, brunette in her 70’s wearing thick, black rimmed glasses. I’d been wondering who she was all night. I finally ask my friend: “Oh, that’s Sarah Moon.” Again, a primal shift, and I walk directly into the entourage and am face-to-face with Sarah Moon. I tell her pretty much what I have just written, but wish I had said just one more thing:

“Sarah, you have made my life better. Thank you.”

Sarah Moon
Sarah Moon

*(or – depending on your metaphysical position – “awoken.” A dichotomy to be revisited in this blog, I am sure)

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